Andy and one of Vienna’s great pedestrian information maps on the corner of Mariahilfestrasse and Kaiserstrasse in Vienna.
This year I’ve been getting more involved in local transport planning politics – reminding me of my days as a leader in San Francisco’s environmental movement.
In October I had an idea for people to meet in the morning and take a walk together before work: Walk to (home) work. I submitted the idea to Agenda Neubau, a city district supported effort to encourage residents to get involved in neighbourhood planning (they provide some professional advisors, organisational resources and a small budget for projects), and it was accepted. We were even given a budget for small treats after the walks.
We had three walks before the latest Covid-19 lockdown meant we could not meet and walk together any longer. Now we are walking alone and sending photos to the Agenda Neubau. We’ll organise a group walk after the lockdown and have a nice breakfast together to make up for all the missed treats.
Vienna is famous for its cafes and coffeehouse culture. Like many cities that developed rapidly in the late 1800s apartments in Vienna were small and people needed space. Cafes provided meals, places to meet, places to read newspapers and to be “at home”. Many cities lost this cafe culture over the years, but, as with many things in Vienna, cafes lived long enough to come back into fashion.
Traditional Viennese cafes are really more like small neighbourhood restaurants that serve (many types) coffee but also warm meals. Only recently modern cafes have been opening that focus especially on coffee quality (the actual coffee in some Viennese coffeehouses is terrible!) and a limited menu. These modern cafes resemble Starbucks, which, one must admit, brought coffeehouse culture back into fashion, at least the part about being a place to hang out.
The cafes I list below are ones I have visited and enjoyed. Everyone in Vienna has their own favourites. Cafes are listed in three groups: grand Ringstrasse cafes, historic neighbourhood cafes, and modern cafes. My key criteria are good people (although be warned, proper manners for a Viennese coffeehouse waiter borders on rudeness to customers), good food – often homemade, fair prices, history and being part of the neighbourhood.
Grand Ringstrasse Cafes
The Ringstrasse is a boulevard built on the site of Vienna’s former walls in the 1860s. It’s one of the pioneering projects in modern city planning and if you are interested in learning more about it see my Ringstrasse Walking Tour.
In the late 1800s the Ringstrasse became the place to go in Vienna. People walking, people in fine carriages, in short, people seeing and being seen. There were palaces and important businesses, cultural institutions like the State Opera and Theater, and government buildings like the national Parliament and Vienna city hall. And, of course cafes. These cafes – because they were stages for their guests – were large, elegant and bright. At their peak there were over 30 grand cafes on the Ringstrasse. Today there are only a handful but they are well worth visiting to experience this age.
All these cafes serve traditional Viennese food, have special lunch menus, make their own cakes and pastries, have long opening hours, and waiters in tuxedos. Don’t forget to make reservations – even for breakfast!
Cafe Pruckel – Ringstrasse at Dr. Karl Lueger Platz. Bright, large rooms, modern, great cultural program. Arty crowd. U-3 Stubenring.
Cafe Schwartzenburg – Ringstrasse at Schwartzenbergplatz. Traditional wood, several medium-sized rooms, nice outdoor seating. People on business lunches.
Cafe Landmann – Ringstrasse at Burgtheater. Traditional wood, several medium-sized rooms, nice outdoor seating, Was Freud’s regular cafe. High society.
Cafe Eiles – Josefstaederstrasse at Landesgerichtestrasse. OK, not actually on the Ringstrasse, but a grand cafe from the same age in the Ringstrasse redevelopment area. Large room with high ceilings, tastefully renovated in recent years. Mixed crowd including government workers. My regular cafe when we were moving here.
Cafe Eiles 2012
Coffee arrives at Cafe Sperl.
Newspapers at Cafe Braunerhof – 2012
These are neighbourhood cafes many of which are from the golden age of cafes. Of course there are hundreds of cafes in Viennese neighbourhoods, that’s the idea after all – a cafe for everyone, so these are only a few I happen to know, but they are all great.
Cafe Sperl – Gumpendorferstrasse. In all the guidebooks but still with local flair. Historic. Great cakes.
Cafe Braunerhof – Stallburggasse (city centre); small, historic, very traditional.
Cafe Florianihof interior
Cafe Hummel Night
Modern cafes are places that serve the same functions as the original Viennese cafes (an extended living room) but in a modern setting and/or with a more modern take on food and drink (e.g., high quality coffee). Of course the grand and traditional cafes are also serving modern food and drink today, but their history makes them special.
Why Crowdsourcing Often Leads to Bad Ideas by Oguz A. Acar in the Harvard Business Review, outlining some of his crowdsourcing research; from the article: “In practice, however, most crowdsourcing initiatives end up with an overwhelming amount of useless ideas.” Read Acar’s critic and improvement suggestions.
Governing by Video Game by Darren Loucaides in Medium, from the article: Cities across the United States are exploring online games as a way of engaging citizens. But being a citizen isn’t the same thing as being a gamer.
My publications about using crowdsourcing in transport are available on my website andynash.com.
Two of my papers were accepted for the 2020 TRB Annual Meeting:
Reducing Delays on High-density Railway Lines: Crossrail Case Study
Giorgio Medeossi and Andrew Nash – Monday January 13 – 10:15 AM- 12:00 PM – Convention Center, 144A
The paper describes development of a new timetable designed to reduce delays on the existing Shenfield-London high density regional rail line. The project combined detailed railway operational data with Oyster Card data to identify the root cause of delays and develop timetable improvements. The alternative timetable was tested and refined using stochastic simulation. The new timetable was placed in service during 2016 and led to a significant reduction in delays: punctuality within 5-minutes of scheduled arrival time increased by 6.2% during the most critical hour of the morning peak period.
A Framework for Capturing the Business Benefits of Railway Digitalization
Andrew Nash, Felix Laube and Samuel Roos – Tuesday January 14 – 1:30 PM – 3:15 PM – Convention Center, Hall A
This paper outlines a framework for changing railway systems and processes to help railways capture the full business benefits of digitalization. Economic research shows that businesses need to make fundamental changes to their systems and processes if they are to take full advantage of new technology. The slow implementation of digitally based signaling systems such as ETCS and PTC highlights the need for fundamental change in the railway industry to more aggressively implement new technology – and obtain the full benefits of this technology. The proposed framework integrates an improved and up-to-date understanding of customer needs with a much more efficient and customer-oriented production process. It is designed to make use of today’s powerful data collection, communications and analysis technologies rather than applying new technology to old processes. The proposed framework has been developed based on earlier research results and practical experience. The paper is intended to spur discussion.
Alan Bell has used machine learning to develop a program that analyses data from traffic cameras to identify blocked bus and bike lanes. He analysed a section of St. Nicholas Avenue in Manhattan and found that the bike lane was blocked 55% of the time and the bus stop was blocked 57% of the time between 7am and 7pm.
This is a great example of how people can use open source data to help develop data supporting sustainable transport. In this case it is clear that better enforcement and protected bike lanes are needed. Residents can take this data to government agencies and demand change.
Transit Alliance Miami Metrorail frequency dashboard created with open source data.
The Transit Alliance Miami has created a simple graphic display illustrating the time between Miami Metrorail trains (frequency) at the Government Center station. They have taken Metrorail data and displayed it in an easy to understand format. It is an excellent example of how city residents can use open data to analyse and publicise the quality of public transport service as part of an advocacy campaign to improve public transport.
According to the website the graphic presents: A real-time audit of Miami’s Metrorail system. It measures the time between each train at Government Center. Each dot represents a train arrival. Every color corresponds to a time. Hover over a dot for more information.